By Margaret Leeming
1990 Ward Lock Ltd. ISBN-13: 978-0706368611
This book is apparently part of the ‘International Gourmet’ series but, as yet, this is the first one of the set I have come across. I am always on the look-out for books focusing on specific regional cuisines rather than those dealing with general Chinese cookery but, these days, Cantonese cookbooks are more heavily represented than those of any other culinary school and it is hard to find ones that are special. Unfortunately, there is not much about this particular publication to lift it above the growing crowd…
Content and Organization
There are 72 recipes provided, mostly organized according to main ingredient but, funnily enough, this is the second book I have looked at in the last few days that has a final chapter in which sweets and savory snacks are, somewhat unusually, grouped together as a single category.
There is a four-page introduction that provides a very perfunctory look at Cantonese cuisine, followed by a moderately useful glossary of ingredients and, finally, at the end of the book, there is a short section providing some tips on serving a Cantonese meal along with a couple of sample menus.
The recipes are, for the most part, fairly simple, straightforward preparations and are all very short, concise and generally easy to follow. There are a couple of interesting dishes … the egg packets on p.58, for example … and a few use some ingredients that would not have been widely known when the book was first published, such as ‘luffa’ (loufa) and bitter melon. The rest, however are fairly standard dishes and similar recipes can be found in countless other books. There is also a final disappointment in that only a few of the dishes have pictures, which, in my copy at least, are a bit ‘washed-out’ and not that visually appealing.
A few of the included recipes are moderately interesting but this book really offers little to distinguish it. Unless you are an inveterate collector, you would be best advised to spend your money elsewhere if all you seek is a good book of Cantonese cookery.